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This article is about an episode in the third campaign of "Critical Role". For the geographical location in Marquet, see: Hellcatch Valley.

"The Hellcatch Valley" (3x24) is the twenty-fourth episode of the third campaign of Critical Role. Bells Hells’ fantastical flight takes them to the lawless town of Bassuras, where danger, deception, and delight lurk behind every corner…

Synopsis

Announcements

  • Matt's normal pre-game hazing was a wall of chaos for which he was unprepared.
  • Welcome back to the Finger Championship Games (FCG), brought to you by Cash App, with a post-game interview of victor Marisha Ray, the Finger Blaster. Vince McSam finally pays her victory prize through the app she installed getting $15 by using code CRITROLE (terms apply), but immediately transfers it back to himself. When she attacks, Flick Flare defends. Stay tuned for that battle!
  • Second sponsor is Ghostfire Gaming's Arora: Age of Desolation, a post-apocalyptic 5e setting. Kickstarter now running. Matt finds "Arora" more difficult to pronounce than one might suppose.
  • Exandria Unlimited: Calamity, a 4-part miniseries, takes over the Campaign Three timeslot beginning next week. Campaign Three will be taking five weeks off, returning 30 June 2022. Details at critrole.com.
  • 4-Sided Dive Episode 3 airs Tuesday, 7 June 2022 at 7 pm Pacific. Its theme song Let's Roll is now available for purchase on various musical platforms.

Previously on Critical Role

So, last time, Bells Hells had said their goodbyes for the time being to the city of Jrusar, where they had met and spent a large portion of their adventure before, and donning their outfits and their gathered materials, and stepping aboard the skyship known as the Silver Sun.

You began to leave the Oderan Wilds and head towards the Hellcatch Valley to chase after the whereabouts of the escaped Armand Treshi, who seems to have gone underground in the city of Bassuras. After many days traveling across the broken, cracked, dust-filled wasteland that is the Hellcatch Valley, looking below day and night, you encountered some dangerous creatures that seemed to take to the skies that battled you on the deck of this very skyship, in which, through some daring escapes and some clutch uses of abilities and spells, prevented Orym from falling to his death immediately.

Fan art of Imogen and Laudna after the gnarlrock is destroyed, by JadeQ.[art 1]

With the possible final night of travel before the next final day of travel to the city of Bassuras, there was a discussion between Imogen and Laudna in which this strange crystal that you had scavenged from the interior of the Shade Mother's lair back in Jrusar, that had been seemingly giving comfort and warmth and having some odd effects on Imogen, had been called into question. Laudna, following a strange internal push towards inspecting and learning the nature of it, grasped the gem upon the promise of nothing bad happening, and upon grasping it, watched as the arcane energy within was drawn out and into her, the crystal crumbling and cracking, left powerless and dark. Imogen stormed off to take a night's rest, wallowing in the sense of betrayal as Laudna screamed at the bow of the ship, nothing but the stars above and the moons to take it.

Part I

Fan art of the Silver Sun moving the dusttra, by Northyme.[art 2]

The next morning, Orym notices a caravan traveling along the valley floor below them, and the ground shifting nearby as if something is burrowing below the ground heading toward it. He alerts Khalil, the crew, and the rest of Bells Hells. Trying to warn the caravan, Chetney uses the Horn of Silent Alarm but it appears to have no effect, while Imogen casts Fly on herself and takes off toward them. Captain Xandis recognizes the creature as a dusttra and in an attempt to pull the creature away the ship hits it with two chain-loaded ballista shots, lassoing it. The now-warned caravan reaches the safety of a rock outcropping.

Imogen makes mental contact with the dusttra, learning it has been captured and abused and its children taken. At Fearne's suggestion, they decide to try to pick up the creature and carry it away. While they are working at chaining it, FCG talks to it and learns that it is searching for its children. Laudna casts Feather Fall on it, and once the three ship's chains are attached they are able to pull it upward and fly a short distance carrying it, but it is hauling itself up the chains toward the ship. When they release the chains, it plummets 50 feet to the ground below and digs itself in, and Ashton is seriously wounded when a bolt recoils into his body. When they check in with the rescued caravan, Laudna asks for a tip for the service provided, but the caravan members have virtually nothing.

As the sun sets, they see the lights of the city of Bassuras, and a green spotlight from a tall tower in its middle centers on them. The Captain sets them down outside the city and quickly takes off westward, away from potential scavengers and attackers. The party is immediately confronted by a Crawler gang riding multiple wheeled constructs, and Ashton explains they are in town looking for somebody who pissed him off. When he gives his name, he is recognized as being "from the House". Although suspicious, the gang leader lets them go.

The party moves toward the city proper through the slum of the Carmine Skids, pretending they didn't just get off the retreating skyship, and realizing that they are being surreptitiously followed. At the 20-foot tall western city gate, they are confronted by the guards but admitted, and move on through the West Dregs of the ramshackle city to the Raha Den on the Salmagunda Strip. The Den is a caravanserai, a combination inn and shopping mall, where they rent three rooms. Once inside, Laudna looks into Lord Eshteross's tracking sphere (which is attuned to Armand Treshi's ring)[1] and sees a bright blue point of light within indicating the ring is within two miles in a southwestward direction. It does not appear to be moving, so they go to bed.

The night is uneventful although Fearne hears what sounds like a large bird landing nearby, and wakes FCG for their watch by inspecting them thoroughly. During their watch, FCG also hears the bird and can see it nesting somewhere above. They are extremely nervous, and at the end of their watch wake Chetney, warning him there is something out there and asking him to investigate, but Chetney sees only a normal-looking large hawk. Confused and curious, Chetney asks FCG to explain. FCG tells him that on "the night everything changed", there was a bird. The bird hates FCG, and wants them dead or humiliated. They don't know why. But it isn't a hawk, so this bird probably isn't it. Chetney pledges to protect FCG from the mysterious bird, which FCG has named "Shithead". Chetney also becomes a trusted companion of FCG.

In the morning, Chetney presents Laudna with her wooden gift: a small house to provide privacy for Pâté and Sashimi during the night, bringing her to tears of gratitude. The location of the glow in the location orb has not changed, and they start walking towards it. Suddenly, they hear a shout, demanding that someone give up their sword and drop what's on them. Investigating, they see a figure in shadows, surrounded by many other figures with weapons drawn, calling for help: a very slight, waifish-looking elf, who refuses their attackers' demands and threatens them with their rapier. Ashton rushes in to help.

Break

Part II

Fan art of Dusk casting Thunder Step, by Lap Pun Cheung.[art 3]

There are five attackers and they immediately go after the mysterious elf, seriously wounding her. One fires a crossbow at FCG, but misses, and Ashton retaliates, raging. The surrounded elf casts Thunder Step, taking herself to safety on a rooftop, while Bells Hells battle on the ground. Imogen twin spells Mind Whip but a wild magic surge causes all her hair to fall out. Chetney throws her his cap and she pulls it on her head.

Orym accidentally runs into an invisible attacker and knocks him to the ground with a trip attack, then knocks him unconscious with a second blow. One of the remaining bandits casts Phantasmal Killer on Ashton, which over time causes massive psychic damage. As the battle continues, the party is both giving and receiving damage. Eventually, Chetney assumes his werewolf form and seriously wounds one, who is unable to flee because of a previous Command by FCG to him to "monologue" on his next turn. With a Lightning Bolt, Imogen succeeds in hitting three of the attackers, killing two of them. Orym stabilizes one of the downed bandits, then knocks another unconscious. Laudna kills the last remaining one with a Shocking Grasp, leaving all of them dead or unconscious.

The elf they rescued thanks them and apologizes for causing them trouble while Ashton loots one of the unconscious attackers. Laudna introduces the group and the elf tells them their name is Dusk, and although they know they're not from the city, they're a little fuzzy about where they are from. They exist in a sort of "twilighty area", touched by the Feywild. The last thing they remember is a beautiful and serene glen in the Feywild at sunset.

FCG heals Dusk a bit. Meanwhile, Fearne wanders off into a nearby tent, encountering a very old woman sitting and eating amid the pungent smoke of some burning crystals in a brazier, seemingly suude. Fearne is able to mostly shake off its mildly hallucinogenic effects, and casually takes a saber and some other items she finds there while chatting with the happily stoned woman.

When Fearne rejoins the party, she introduces herself to Dusk and tells her she's from the Feywild. They bond over their mutual desire to return there. Eventually the party decides to take the conversation to A Taste of Tal'Dorei, a theme restaurant in the South Dregs, which is in roughly the same direction as the location orb is pointing. As the group heads toward the restaurant, Laudna shares that the party is in Bassuras to capture an outlaw.

Featured characters

Bells Hells

Returning

New

  • Darlene Dancy (assumed name), a drug addict
  • Dusk

Mentioned

  • Armand Treshi
  • Glen, a leatherworker that Laudna stole from
  • Maeve, an Ashari, sister of Will
  • Nel, an Ashari, mother of Will

Quotations

  • Orym: Guys, when you ask Ashton a question, the answer comes in 24 to 48 hours.
  • FCG: It was a night like this one. Except... it was the night when everything changed. There's a bird. There's a bird that hates me. It wants me dead, or worse, humiliated.
    Chetney: Why, FCG, why?
    FCG: I don't know. I don't know what I did to it. But it hates me and won't let me alone. It's unrelenting. It chases me everywhere I go, in the waking hours, in the evening hours... It haunts me.
    Chetney: Take my hand. I won't let this hawk take you. [...] My chisel is yours.
  • Imogen: (after her hair falls out in a wild magic surge) Oh, no! I Fjorded myself![2]
  • Fearne: Is this your saber? Because I think I left it in here.
    Old Woman: Oh, then you should take it.
    Fearne: Yeah, I will. What else did I leave in here?
  • Fearne: Are you affected by the smoke that you're putting in the room, or...?
    Old Woman: (happily) Yes.
    Fearne: Yeah, you're just having a good lunchtime?
    Old Woman: Just passing the time here in hell.

Inventory

Adjustment Count Item Source Destination Notes
Stolen 1 Ornate spyglass Xandis Fearne Fearne pickpocketed it as the party was leaving the skyship.
Transferred 1 Small wooden house Chetney Laudna To provide privacy for Pâté and Sashimi during the night.
Looted 1 Dagger Unconscious bandit Ashton
Looted 85
2
gold pieces
platinum pieces
Unconscious bandit Ashton
Crafted 1 Wig Dusk Imogen Dusk crafted it from Imogen's fallen hair by Prestidigitation, poorly.
Stolen 1 Saber
Bag of rice
Blue silk pants
Box of candles
a tent Fearne

Trivia

  • When Orym stabilized one of the attacking bandits with Druidcraft, he mentioned that it was "just like I saw Nel and Maeve do so many times."[3] Nel and Maeve were the wife and daughter of Derrig,[4] whose son was Will, Orym's late husband.

References

  1. See "Promise and Potential" (3x22) at 2:15:42.
  2. While the Mighty Nein was in Aeor, a wild magic surge caused all Fjord's hair to fall out.  See "The Streets of the Forgotten" (2x134) at 3:47:37.
  3. See "The Hellcatch Valley" (3x24) at 3:25:49.
  4. Twitter logo.png Liam O'Brien (@VoiceOfOBrien) on Twitter: "Derrig's wife is Nel." (2022-05-21).

Art:

  1. Fan art of Imogen and Laudna after the gnarlrock is destroyed, by JadeQ (source). Used with permission.
  2. Fan art of the Silver Sun moving the dusttra, by Northyme (source). Used with permission.
  3. Fan art of Dusk casting Thunder Step, by Lap Pun Cheung (source). Used with permission.
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